3D-Printed Concrete Is Coming to New York’s Socrates Sculpture Park

A German-American design firm created comic book–esque public seating that encourages playfulness.

Situated on a five-acre riverside expanse, Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens is a site ripe for experimentation. In 2012, the park-cum-exhibition space partnered with the Architectural League of New York to introduce the Folly/Function design-build competition to encourage emerging creators to explore the intersection of architecture and sculpture. In its early years, the competition’s projects were more intended to serve an ephemeral if non-practical existence. More recently, the competition has challenged participants to design with greater purpose: to improve the conditions of the park. “We’re in many ways an art organization, but part of the Park’s DNA also includes community building and urban planning,” said the park’s director of exhibitions Jess Wilcox. “Folly/Function allows us to focus on that and continue this dialogue with architects and designers.”

Photo: Courtesy Hannah

This year’s prompt called for chairs. The winner—chosen by a jury of industry leaders, among them Mark Yoes of WXY Architecture, artist Allan Wexler, and Wilcox— is Hannah, a young Germany and U.S.–based interdisciplinary architectural studio founded by Leslie Lok and Sasa Zivkovic. Sharing a longstanding curiosity about urbanism and technology, Lok and Zickovic created “RRRolling Stones,” a whimsical, 3D-printed concrete seating system of modules of varying spikiness (think: “Pow!” bubbles in comic books). Each piece is made of a homemade concrete mixture that is printed in the Cornell Robotic Construction Laboratory and can either serve as an individual seat, or be assembled with others to form a long bench. “While the potential of robotic and digital fabrication is well understood, the architecture of 3-D printed concrete is still largely unexplored, so that’s what we’ve been investigating with this installation and throughout our other work,” says Zivkovic. “This is a perfect project that will allow the wider public to really engage with it and touch it and use it,” added Lok. And this summer, you can do just that.

RRRolling Stones will be installed and open for play at the Socrates Sculpture Park from July 12 to Sept. 12.

Photo: Courtesy Hannah
Photo: Courtesy Hannah
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